McDonough keeping Hawkeye tradition alive, on and off the mat

BY KYLE MANN | JULY 16, 2014 5:00 AM

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Iowa has a long-standing tradition of success in wrestling, both in the NCAA and after wrestlers have graduated. But only a stroke of success isn’t enough — Matt McDonough wants all the success.

He competed in the University World Championships in Hungary last week and brought home a bronze medal. After being defeated in the semifinals, McDonough came back strong and won third place at 57-kilograms handily, with a 12-2 technical fall.

“I can’t say I’m pleased with third place,” he said. “It’s always better to come home with something than to come home with nothing, but there are no moral victories. It’s not what I wanted in any way, shape, or form. I have work to do.”

That attitude is exactly what made McDonough successful as a Hawkeye; he was an NCAA champion twice in his five years on campus. He sputtered as a senior, but head coach Tom Brands believes that McDonough has bounced back recently as he has returned to the habits and mentality that brought him success in his early years.

“He’s rejuvenated himself from a commitment point of view, and it’s kind of like he’s back now,” Brands said. “You see him working hard when he doesn’t have to work hard, and those are the things that gave him his edge when he was younger.”

McDonough has been around the program since graduation, but Brands has noticed a considerable spike in his performance in 2014.

“What he did well in Hungary was what he’s done well in the last two to three months,” Brands said. “When you look at the best wrestlers, they do what they do best all the time, and I think he waded into unfamiliar territory a little bit. He’s gone back to who he was.”

With his revived sense of commitment, McDonough will use his finish in Hungary as motivation to learn and keep improving.

“I wrestled a match in the semifinals that I lost to a good opponent [Japan’s Fumitaka Morishita in a 10-7 decision], but I feel I could’ve won that match,” McDonough said. “That’s motivating, because I have a chance now to refine my wrestling, improve myself, and take strides to where I can hopefully be on that top stand.”

Former Hawkeyes wrestling after college goes far beyond McDonough, however, so the former national champion still has plenty to learn from plenty of accomplished sources.

Brands was an Olympic gold medalist, and his brother, Terry, was a bronze winner. Former Hawkeye Brent Metcalf has also had a great freestyle career after graduating in 2010, and he has worked closely with McDonough.

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